Monday, 26 September 2016

The Pearly Festivities

Proof that the seasons have changed.  The Pearly Kings and Queens celebrated the harvest festival yesterday.  The 140 year tradition included morris dancers, maypole dancing, music and bands.

They then all trotted of to St Mary Le Bow church for a thanksgiving service, a bit of catching up with old friends and then departed in charming old vehicles.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Chocolate Factory

Imagine the smells that must have filled the air back in the 1800's when this was the French Menier chocolate factory.  Following years of being a derelict building it began its new life in 2004 as a theatre and art gallery.

As part of the continuing development of the area a whole new development is currently being undertaken next door.  To be known as Flat Iron square, it promises restaurants, music and entertainment venues

Friday, 23 September 2016

Now and Then

The old fire station showing images of the transport from a bygone era.  Now we run and cycle.

Thursday, 22 September 2016


A very different and interesting visit on open house weekend was to Custom House.  Not only for the architecture of the beautiful Georgian building but also to learn more about the activities of collecting custom and excise duty and protecting what is permissible to enter the country.

Actually what was more interesting is what is not permissible.  One room had a selection of goods that had been seized such as this tiger.  I am stunned at what people try and smuggle in to the country.  Huge elephant tusks, wolves, bears, all manner of reptiles, plus the usual drugs, alcohol and tobacco products.

The methods of smuggling were revealed to us as was the means of how Her Majesties officers (and dogs) investigate and capture those involved.  The dogs demonstrated their skill in finding a suitcase with hidden cocaine, and all for a reward of a tennis ball to play with!

If you haven't already visited Custom House I'd absolutely recommend putting this one on your open house visit next year.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Art in the City

Title "Saints and Sailors"  by artist by Benedetto Pietromarch.  The work was inspired by a journey on a cargo ship carrying wood pulp from Uruguary to the Netherlands,

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


A fun use of the city's glass towers.  Those of us queuing to see the award winning garden (see yesterdays post) where entertained by the abseilers on an adjacent building.

A fun discussion ensued as to who would be brave enough to give it a go.  This was really challenged when one of the organisers came over and attempted to entice us into taking part.  It was all of a good cause she encouraged.

I was tempted but no I decided there was another open house I really needed to get to.  (That is the excuse I'm sticking to.)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Award Winning Garden

Determined to make the most out of open house weekend, I was up early on Sunday morning (having missed out on Saturday) to make sure I got to see the award winning garden on the roof of 201 Bishopsgate.

 I'm still trying to fathom if this was some kind of joke.  "It's a wild garden" the security man informed me.  "No it's a bunch of dead weeds" I replied.  Although a grey foggy morning the view wasn't bad, so at least that gave us something to look at.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Ted gets hedgy

… and I don’t mean hedge fund … oh wait maybe I do. Autumn came visiting this week – actually make that “crash landed” on London from a great height. One day we’re basking in 29 degrees Celsius (84F) and the next day the mercury had plummeted to 19 (65). As I shivered in my summer clothing for lack of checking the weather forecast, I cheered myself by thinking “but Ted Autumn is your favourite season when natures bounties quite literally fall at our feet and all we need do is bend down and pick them up".

A stalwart of the English countryside “hedgerows” are rows of closely planted trees and shrubs that in the past were a means of marking boundaries and keeping livestock in or out of fields. Nowadays they still perform that function, are important in the battle against erosion, and provide habitats for wildlife.  They also contain plants that yield up their seasonal goodies like sloes, plums that are best either cooked or steeped in gin or vodka for a lovely winter tipple. Popular in hedgerows and also cultivated, mostly in Kent, the Cobnut is a member of the hazelnut family and was introduced to Britain by the Romans.

They were hugely popular in Victorian times, partly due to the fact that they were planted next to fields in which grew another Kent stalwart, hops for beer brewing, and the working class families that travelled from the cities to pick hops on their holidays quickly discovered the unique and sweet taste of these little nuts.  The rich of the day were not ones for missing out either and hence cobnuts graced the tables in grand country houses and were regarded as a very fine desert indeed. Cobnuts were widely travelled little nuts because they remained fresh inside their husk for months and thus were sent on many a long sea voyage of discovery.

The poor old cobnut gradually fell from favour despite its sweet moist coco nutty like flavour – replaced in the public's favour by imported hazelnuts from Italy and Turkey. Today only about 250 acres of cobnuts are still producing crops commercially, with varieties like Frizzled Filbert, Mereville de Bollwiller (more easily pronounced as Hall’s Giant) Ennis and the ever popular Sicklers Zellenuss.  Popular with who Ted? Well the focus on saving old varieties of all things edible and the resurgence in grow and eat local has certainly seen the Cobnut reappear in good grocery stores and markets for its short season to be discovered anew.

… truly though their number one fan who will stop at nothing for a feast of cobnuts is … yep … the grey squirrel ...

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Estate

Open House London is on this weekend.  If you are curious about brutalist architecture and what was regarded as an innovative approach to housing in the 60's and 70's then you might like to take a look at the Robin Hood estate in Tower Hamlets.

A group of keen photographers have been recoding the estate over the past couple of years.  The buildings are scheduled for demolition to be replaced with new homes.  As part of open house an exhibition of their work is on display, together with historic images and plans from the original development, alongside plans for the future of the estate.  In addition there are regular organised tours inside one of the apartments.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Coloured Tower

A colourful tower reflecting the the office towers all around it perhaps?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Lanterns in the Trees

Next time you are passing by City Hall, look out for the lanterns in the trees.
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